Five facts to know about alcohol and cancer – Alcohol charity marks European Week Against Cancer

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, highlighted the fact that reducing the amount we drink will contribute to reducing the number of cancer cases in Ireland.

The charity was speaking ahead of European Week Against Cancer (25-31 May) which highlights the links between alcohol and cancer.

Alcohol Action Ireland Director Fiona Ryan said: “One in ten cancers in men and one in 33 cancers in women is caused by alcohol.

“Drinking more than two drinks a day for men and one for women causes the majority of cancer cases linked to alcohol.

“By reducing the amount we drink, we will see a reduction in the number of alcohol-related cancer cases in Ireland.

“We know from the World Health Organisation that pricing is one of the key ways to reduce levels of alcohol consumption in a country.

“Unfortunately, previous successive Governments appeared to be determined not to initiate the one measure that could have a real impact on reducing our damaging levels of drinking – pricing. In December 2009, the Government cut excise duty by 20% and our national consumption rates jumped by 6% the following year.

Ms Ryan added: “Today, over half of all Irish drinkers are drinking in a way which damages their health, that’s 7 in 10 men and 4 in 10 women who drink.

“The new Government has the opportunity to make a difference and introduce measures that will have a real impact on our damaging levels of alcohol consumption. The introduction of minimum pricing, a floor price below which alcohol cannot be sold, will go some way to reducing the overall amount we drink.

“If we’re serious about tackling alcohol-related cancer, then we need to get serious about tackling our drinking.”

Five facts to know about alcohol and cancer

  • One in 10 cancers in men and one in 33 in women is caused by drinking alcohol
  • Many cancers, including cancer of the mouth, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast is caused by alcohol
  • Cancer of the liver has had the highest rate of increase of all cancer types in Ireland
  • Drinking one standard alcoholic drink a day increases the risk of a women developing breast cancer by 9%, while drinking 3-6 ¬†standard drinks a day increases the risk by 41%
  • Almost one in five people in Ireland are unaware of the link between alcohol and cancer risk


Notes to Editor:

  • A recent report in the British Medical Journal found, if causality is assumed, that 10% of cancer in men and 3% of cancer in women can be attributed to alcohol. It also found that a substantial proportion of cancers caused by alcohol were associated with drinking more than one standard drink a day for women and more than two standard drinks a day for men. To view, here

For further information or comment contact:
Alcohol Action Ireland Communications Officer Cathy Gray (01) 878 0610/ 087 995 0186